I saw the game in New York last night. It was the E3 build again, but there was something I didn't notice the first time around. "Alpha Protocol" has what's called "Recruit" mode. Just by the name it sounds like "Easy," doesn't it. Well it ain't. Starting the game as a "Recruit" kicks you off with exactly zero skill points (normal play-throughs start with a handful, spread out among several skills). Not to mention, everyone it in the game treats you like a recruit, so if you try to intimidate someone, they may just laugh in your face.
Our demo starts as Thornton reaches Moscow to interrogate a hardened Ruski named Grigori, who is the source for intel on some heavy weapons. Interrogating non-playable characters (NPCs) involves using the game's conversation mechanic. Rather than choosing between specific phrases, the conversation system involves adopting different approaches which are based on the three JBs - James Bond (suave), Jack Bauer (aggressive) and Jason Bourne (professional). When playing the game for real, players will only have one stab at each NPC conversation, but for the demo it was useful to see how these different approaches lead to different outcomes.
Davis remarks: "One of the Sega producers in the US likes to say that it is open-story versus open-world. What you will see in the game that you won't see in many open-world games is the level of reactivity. Because we know exactly what you have said and all this other stuff, we are able to react to those things and we are able to create unique storylines. Open world gives you a lot of options but it also gives you a lot of imitations in terms of what you can do in the game."
Not only will this reactivity hopefully provide some compelling experiences on the first playthrough, but it will also generate multiple options for subsequent playthoughs. Even though statistics gained from one campaign cannot be carried over to further games, beating the main campaign once opens up the recruit difficulty level. This involves players starting off with zero stats on the RPG mechanic, which provides a significant challenge when taking on the missions (and also unlocks the rather confused recruit dialogue responses). Beating the game on Recruit unlocks the Veteran mode, in which players start off with level five on every RPG stat and also get to use the veteran dialogue.